To give or not to give, what lesson do I teach?

It is frightening cold out today and as I drove with Naya to our music class with the fabulous Jennifer Gasoi, a gentleman was passing along the cars soliciting very gently for change.

A few people cracked open their window to drop a few coins in his cup, another gave him change and a cigarette. And I got more and more nervous as he approached one car at a time.

I glanced at the change slot in my car and then at him. Then my lips tightened as I thought about what do to. I have given half my lunch to a homeless man who was sitting near a traffic light as I walked by, bought lunch for another who was sitting by a Tim Hortons. I have given away the left overs from dinner out when asked to and I have often, often given money to people holding cups, even when some of them looked like they could easily be somewhere else.

Since having Naya I live my life as I would want to model it for her. I’ve always been decent….more like a bleeding heart. I’ve always enjoyed holding doors for people, tipping good service, saying hello to the cashier everywhere and anywhere I shop, I say thank you to doormen and ofter to help people with heavy things or who look like they need a hand. I’ve often gone out of my way and I like to – it makes me feel like I’m part of the human race.

But then I started to read or hear a lot about how many people on the street run scams and make about $100.00 an hour.  Talk radio devoted three hours to this topic some weeks ago. I personally saw a woman sitting on the street day after day and then get up a the end of a “work day” and pull out keys to a car.

So now, when in doubt, I don’t spread the wealth, the warmth or do a random act of kindness. I stress in my car, look into the distance and then regret not giving anything, just like if I had given I would regret the possibility of being ‘played’. And then I turn up the heat so that at least my daughter is warm and fed and comfy. And pray that she didn’t notice mommy ignoring the man who was quite possibly in need.

A.

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